Try to guess what movie I watched this Christmas. The story’s protagonist is a middle-aged man caught in a job keeping him from pursuing his dreams. Life feels mundane, maybe even meaningless. But when the man undergoes a death-like experience that grants him a new perspective, he realizes he had a good life all along. He’s adamant that he wants to live again. And thankfully, he gets a second chance, now with a renewed sense of how wonderful and significant life is. What movie did I watch?
I didn’t watch It’s A Wonderful Life (which is still the GOAT of Christmas movies). I watched Pixar’s Soul, which released on Disney+ on Christmas. These two movies differ in many ways, but at heart, both awaken a deep appreciation for life. Though not without its disappointments and difficulties, life is full of purpose, meaning, beauty, and joy. All of life. Every life.
You can read my recent post at The Gospel Coalition for a few of the themes from Soul I appreciated most. The film’s director was Pete Docter, the writer and director of Inside-Out. If Inside-Out explored how personalities work, Soul explores where these personalities come from. Both movies offer a creative exploration of these complex questions rather than philosophical answers.
I found Soul to be limited or even weak in its considerations of questions related to the soul, spirituality, and the afterlife, but strong in its assessment of the value and wonder of earthly living. ButI’m less interested in what Soul got wrong and more interested in what it gets right, especially since it’s a creative exploration raising big questions more than it seeks to offer definitive answers. The world pictured in Soul is a world full of meaning, purpose, beauty, and joy. It celebrates life. It helps us see that despite all the disappointments, frustrations, and trials, life is worth living.